Everything was still there. Luckily, his father was lazy and nothing had been done with his uncle’s belongings. He found the hidden key and went inside. The power had been shut off. He found a flashlight and started to bring files down the basement. He wanted to go unnoticed.
The search of the voluminous records his uncle kept was daunting. He would spent days pouring over the files. He wasted the first few hours by looking at files dated before the war. Then, he remembered that what he was looking for had to have occurred after the war started. This fact greatly reduced his workload. He took a chance and just scanned the files instead of reading them carefully on the off chance that one would stand out. It didn’t.
On day two, he was almost caught when a realtor appeared at the door. He just made it to the basement as the agent started to walk around upstairs. He hid behind the furnace and waited. They guy didn’t take long and was gone in ten minutes. Luckily Jim was eating out and had not spending much time up stairs.
At the end of day three, he was getting discouraged. Nothing…absolutely nothing pointed towards what had triggered his uncle thinking about Skinner’s pigeons. Then he found it! It was in an obscure newsletter put out by The American Racing Pigeon Union. An article mentioned how a Soviet diplomat had become very interested in buying large numbers of pigeons of all varieties and was sending them back to the USSR at great expense. These shipments were made during 1944 and early 1945.
Stapled to the newsletter was a report dated July, 1946 by a colonel in the US Air Force. The report described recent losses by the Army Air Corps in its attempted raids for the months of May and June 1946 in Western Europe. It was a footnote that really caught his eye, and his uncle’s he was sure. It mentioned bird feathers and parts being found in three damaged bombers that had made it back to base. All three bombers had been survivors of missile strikes. Three in the course of 3 months of war was not a lot, unless you were looking for clues. The note suggested that the bombers in question must have hit birds sometime during their mission. “OR THE BIRDS HIT THEM!” Jim shouted to the furnace.
The colonel’s name was Henderson, Miles Henderson. He called Skinner from a pay phone just down the street within ten minutes. He got Mrs. Skinner who promised to pass on the information. He was sure she would. He went back to the basement of his uncle’s house and went to sleep for the first time in days.